Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Tale of Three Brothers

Once upon a time there were three brothers. The oldest brother was large and in-charge, the youngest brother loved to have fun. The middle brother was--well, he was sickly and kept to himself. Only his mother knew what a kind heart he had.

As they aged, the oldest brother scoured mountains for wildlife to hunt and fish to kill. His expeditions brought him a measure of earthly fame and acclaim. Over time he grew reckless and took many chances. After extended hospitalization, he died young.

The fun-loving brother lived for pleasure and became known for his wild exploits. Over the years, his abused body objected strenuously and struck him down three times, the third stroke bringing him low. He lives alone, a prisoner in his wheelchair, and weeps.

The middle brother lived quietly--so quietly that early-on he heard the still small voice of God gently nudging him to draw near. God lifted him up, healed him, and surrounded him with people who love him. Now everyone knows what a kind heart he has, and his mother smiles from heaven.

She smiles for all her boys because God, in his mercy and grace, extended the gift of salvation to each of them, and they accepted before it was too late.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sleepless Nights . . . How Do You Spend Them?

Summer is just around the corner yet, in the Pacific Northwest, a winter-like spring dominates our days, making it hard to know what to wear. Even choosing bedding can be a challenge. Too warm for blankets, it's not warm enough for sheets alone.

Last night is a case in point. After waking up too warm, I never was able to get back to sleep. Perhaps it was our new heavier bedding (I'm used to a lightweight down comforter) or perhaps the Lord was trying to get my attention. Perhaps someone needed prayer.

In any case, I'm up and working. What do you do when sleep eludes you? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

By the Grace of God

How many times have you heard someone, perhaps yourself, say, "By the grace of God . . . ."?
  • By the grace of God, he made it through the savage river.
  • By the grace of God, she survived her heart attack.
  • By the grace of God, they foraged enough food to make it through the winter.
  • By the grace of God, he outran the bear.
In crunch times we are more likely to humble ourselves and cry out for help. In our crises we recognize our vulnerability and credit God with deliverance. Too bad we don't recognize our need for God in the good times, for those are often the very times we succumb to temptation or are blindsided by the enemy. Like lambs cut from the fold, we make easy prey for wolves in sheep's clothing.

Drawing near to God ensures His protection.

"Draw near to God
and He will draw near to you."
~James 4:8
We may never know what troubles have been averted just because the Good Shepherd is keeping watch over our souls.

"I lay down My life for the sheep."
~ John 10:17

By the grace of God, He loved the world so much that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Everyone's Looking for Purpose in Life

Everyone's looking for purpose in life. Many seek it in their work. Others seek it in their good deeds. Others seek it in their friendships, the clubs they belong to, the spouse or children they have (or wish they had). Some look for purpose and meaning in their toys, cash flow, stocks and bonds, or clothes hanging in their closet.

Few know where true meaning is found, and yet it's no secret. There was a king who searched for meaning in every conceivable way. And he could do it--he had the funds and the power to try it all.
  • He searched for meaning in wisdom and found that the same fate overtook both wisdom and folly.
  • He sought for meaning in toil and discovered that, for all his hard work, he only had pain and grief to show for it.
  • He tried to find meaning in riches but discovered that whoever loves wealth is never satisfied.
  • He found no meaning in multiple wives and concubines finding that they became a snare to him.
King Solomon looked for meaning in ways average people like us can only "dream of." And he was gracious to share his findings with us: nothing worked. What gives life meaning, he concluded, is to embrace God's plan for mankind.

If you are struggling to find meaning in your life, struggle no longer. The best and brightest among us, i.e., King Solomon, has done the research and has found the answer.

"Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every word into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil."
~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

You can continue to follow every rabbit trail looking for meaning in life or you can learn from King Solomon that they are all dead ends. On this earth all is vanity except for having a proper relationship with the God who made you and loves you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How We Spend Our Days

The church in Thessalonica had a problem--some of its members had too much time on their hands, and they were getting into trouble.

"We hear that some among you are idle.
They are not busy; they are busybodies.
Such people we command and urge 
in the Lord Jesus Christ
to settle down . . . 
and, as for you, brothers,
never tire of doing what is right."
2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NIV

How about us? Do we spend our time doing what is right? Or are we idle, busybodies following our own agenda all the while thinking we are doing right? And how do we know the difference? This is a thorny question. Let's take it to God, remembering he gives wisdom generously to all without finding fault.

Let's say you want to be involved in this or that activity. Do a little soul-searching.
  • Do you sense the leading of the Holy Spirit, or are you lead by your own need to make things right? 
  • Is love for others driving you to help, or is it anger at the injustices you see in a particular situation?
  • Do you believe that God is capable of handling the problem, or do you believe that He can't do it without your assistance?
  • Are you more concerned with eternal outcomes, or are you focused on the temporal?
  • Do you find yourself praying about the situation, or participating in angry discussions over it?
  • Are you looking for peaceful ways to bring about change, or are you fomenting trouble?
These are just some considerations when you're trying to determine whether your involvement in a given activity is led by the Spirit of God. Remember that the "wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:17-18).

Having determined what the will of God is, then we should go for it, expending all our energy in pursuit of his goals, never tiring of doing what is right!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcoming the Word of God

In 1968 Phil Masters and fellow-missionary Stan Dale were murdered as they took the message of God's love to a remote people group in Indonesia. Don't miss the compelling account of their story at 

In those days the Word of God was not welcomed in that part of Indonesia. But that didn't stop God's love from reaching out to those people.

Even after his death, Phil's wife Phyliss and their children modeled the love of God to the very people who had killed their beloved husband and father.  (Such love brought the tribe to their knees and led to their transformation from cannibals to Christians. For the whole story, read Don Richardson's Lords of the Earth.) Phyliss continued to work as a missionary in Indonesia until she retired in 1996.

For many years the Word of God has been welcomed in that part of Indonesia. But it did not exist in their own tongue.

Phyliss Masters returned this Spring as part of a celebration to distribute the very first New Testaments written in the Kimyal language. After decades of work--begun by Elinor Young and completed by Rosa Kidd and Kimyal translators--the Bibles were brought by plane to Korupun for distribution.

With great joy and anticipation the people prepared for this celebration. When the plane arrived they chanted and cheered for the Word of God as if they were receiving a visit from Jesus ("the Word") himself. Tears flowed freely as they held in their own hands the completed New Testament. Nothing I could write can match the intensity of their emotions.

Give yourself a blessing. Sit down and watch the DVD (link following). It captures the essence of those days of celebration. See if it doesn't bring you to tears as you witness how precious the Word of God is to those who haven't had it in their own language. See if it doesn't inspire in you a new reverence for your own Bible.